Glazed Over

For starters, this blog’s gonna have a lot of products mentioned, a web site linked, and names-named. That said, no one is going to want to be in this column come tomorrow but those with the heartiest sense of humor, so here goes.

It’s Wednesday. Girl’s Night. So, Pam is going out with Fatima to hang out at BackStreets. Tonight, before she left, she got involved with me in what can only be described as a food experiment.

This shouldn’t have been a toughie. I had some teriyaki sauce I’d purchased at Target. I had about a third of a container of Chik-Fil-A dipping sauce—the kind you can now buy to take home. Last week, I whipped up a mix of the teriyaki and Chik-Fil-A sauce in an attempt to replicate the BackStreets boneless wing glaze, which is a mixture of mild wing sauce and teriyaki somethingorother.

Chic-Fil-A Sauce

Yes, you can now buy this awesome sauce by the container.

Now, did I think I could manage this feat? No. All I wanted was a good dipping sauce and a little teriyaki kick. That’s it. I’m a simple guy. I eat like a single guy. I was not pretending to “Go gourmet” here. My sauce? Fine. Tasted good. Only thing was, the teriyaki didn’t mix well. I think the Chik-Fil-A sauce was simply too thick (yum), and the teriyaki just sort of floated around in it. When Pam got home last week and asked, I told her this.

“Oh, I can fix that. Next time let me cook it a little with some corn starch. That’ll make it more like a glaze.”

As the guys in the Guinness commercials love to exclaim, “Brilliant!” And so, I agree to give it a shot and see how it works. Well, tonight was the night. Unfortunately, I had had chicken nuggets again in the meantime, and so was running low on Chik-Fil-A sauce. But (and isn’t it always after the word: But, that things go awry?), we did have plenty of other, uh, similar ingredients. We had honey mustard. We had honey. We had regular mustard. We had BBQ sauce.

First up, the honey mustard. Of an indeterminate age, Pam suggests I try it before just pouring some in. I agree. She tells me to stick out my finger. I do. She squeezes a semi-viscous, watery fluid onto my fingertip. Like an idiot, I don’t put two and two together and my brain takes too long to catch up and scream at me: Honey mustard is thick! Honey mustard is thick! Danger, Will Robinson, danger! And so, I try it.

Let’s just say, we cross the honey mustard out of tonight’s equation, and add honey mustard to the shopping list. That brings up the bottle of Ray’s BBQ sauce. (I think it’s technically Ray’s Famous, but I don’t do BBQ, and whether or not he’s famous doesn’t apply to me.) We throw some of that in. Not bad, but still lacking punch. We need something to counteract the saltiness of the teriyaki. Hence, we move on to Grey Poupon, which I’ve never had in my life. Largely because I don’t do plain mustard, either, but somebody Pam knows wanted her to cook something that required some Grey Poupon, so this stuff is sitting around the fridge, waiting for an unexpecting blind guy to stumble upon it and confuse it with Cheese Whiz.

So, she adds some. Wisk. Mix. Taste.

Hmnnn. Not bad. But still a little salty. Still missing something.

The honey. I can’t tell you if it’s the honey you squirt out of the little bear or not, because I’ve never used honey, either, except a couple of times about 15 years ago in a milkshake because somebody said it was what they added to Steak & Shake milkshakes to make them taste that way. (See a pattern here? Chik-Fil-A sauce. Target brand teriyaki. Cheese Whiz. Steak & Shake. We’re not talking Emeril Lagasse here.)

In goes the honey. In goes some more teriyaki. In goes the corn starch. Onto the stove it goes, with Pam at the controls.

To be fair, when this concoction came out of the pot and she poured it into a Rubbermaid container for me (because I planned to put the leftover sauce in the fridge til next week), the stuff tasted great. I couldn’t wait to cook up my nuggets and go to town.

Now. My nuggets. I eat Dino Nuggets. You can get ’em at BJs Wholesale, and plenty of other places, I’m sure. I like these because you get a bag of 1400 for about $10.99, they’re reasonably chickeny, and have a lot of breading. I am sure, somewhere along the way, a few necks and beaks are involved in the process, but frankly, I don’t care. These taste good, they’re inexpensive, I get several meals out of 1 box, and while I don’t care about exactly which dinosaurs they’re cut up into (although I suspect I get a lot of pteradactyls), pretty much anything I put them in is good.

Dino Nuggets

Dino Nuggets go great with just about everything.

Under alfredo sauce? Yum. On an almost-kinda-something-like-chicken-tenders salad? Yum. Dipped into Cheese Whiz? You get the picture.

So, I dice up a nugget for Mouse and toss it into her bowl, take my nugget sauce into my office with a big plate of Dino goodness and start eating.

I will admit. I’ve had some food failures before. Once, in a low blood sugar state, I tried pouring some cereal into a bowl and eating it. Only, it wasn’t cereal. Trust me when I tell you, Doritos are not good in milk. (And, they get soggy quick.) I can tell you from experience, do not, I repeat Do Not, try reheating Taco Bell tacos in the microwave with the lettuce on them. Not good. Never grate mozzarella cheese you think smells a little.tangy, unless you run it past your sighted wife, first. Green mold may have a lot of uses. On a 9 inch personal Totinos pizza isn’t one of them.

So, the first few nuggets go down fine. All is well. But then, I notice my diet cherry drink bottle is empty, and go to make more. Total elapsed time? Maybe three minutes. I return to my office to find that closing in on room temperature, my chicken nugget sauce is a solid. And, I do mean solid. No worries, though. Off to the microwave, where like Victor Frankenstein, I resurrect my experimental, not-quite-ready for market glaze, and continue eating. This time, for about 30 seconds.

My wife will attest to this. My phone records? I will post them if anyone questions my account. I had to call Pam to tell her that she needs to re-enable my camera app, or hook me up with a cheap digital camera, because my Dino nugget broke off in the sauce. Folks, the Dino nuggets are a good two inches long and they’re sturdy dipping nuggets. Never in my life had I had one not just come apart, but rip down the middle.

Torn. This wasn’t a flimsy nugget that broke off at the tip, no. This was a fully-formed, well-breaded, somewhat meaty nugget, that had just been rent asunder by my coagulating dipping sauce. How could I not call Pam? (She of Not only that. Not only did my nugget get cut in two like the Black Dahlia, the remaining nugget remained
upright in the sauce. Kind of like a boot lost in swamp muck when your foot gets pulled out of it.

I’m astonished. I’m on the phone with Pam, explaining this, when I try and free the remaining half nugget. And what happens?

It. won’t. come. loose. No BS. Ever make Jell-O and forget you didn’t take the spoon out and put it in the fridge? Yep, been there, done that. You know what happens when you try and pull the spoon out? The whole freaking Jell-O starts to peel out.

Well, so does my nugget sauce. I’m not exaggerating. I wish I had been granted my sight back for fifteen seconds, if only to be able to video myself trying to wrest this abandoned half-nugget from the bog in my Rubbermaid bowl. This came out, conforming to the shape of the container. It was, as best I can describe, as blobby as the Blob came out of that meteor before hopping from the stick onto that guy’s arm. I considered letting Mouse have it, in the event we ever need a dental mold of my dog’s choppers.

I was glad that I hadn’t let her lick my finger when I’d dipped it into the sauce after nuking it to check the temperature, because the poor pooch would still be trying to get her mouth open.

The Sauce the Next Morning

The next morning…

I don’t know what, precisely, is to blame for the end result, which is, driveway sealant. Fix A Flat. An Everlasting Teriyaki Gobstopper. I’m serious. John Holmes was never this hard. Pam thinks it may have been the corn starch. If so, I believe the government should fund research into dropping corn starch from airplanes onto terrorists. Or using this stuff to seal them into their caves in the mountains.

My guess is between the honey and the guesswork and the corn starch, we simply put too much goop in one bowl. I like all this stuff, really, I do. And I won’t lie-I did (eventually) free that nugget and ate it. If all goes well, I’ll remain as full as I’ve been for the past 2 hours until my stomach acids eventually break things down. Shouldn’t take any more than 48 or 72 hours. I’ll let’cha know.
Currently listening to: Seventeen by Ladytron

I-i-i-i-i-i-t’s bacon!

A couple weeks back, I got a call from my nephew, CJ. It was about 6, and Pam and I were working furiously on getting The Bunker finalized, since we had to go to a double-layer DVD to fit all the extras on it. Here’s how the conversation went:

“Uncle Joe, my Dad wants to know if you can meet us for dinner-guess where?”

“Ugh. Sorry, kiddo, me and Aunt Pam are neck-deep in work. Where are you guys going?”

“Really? You can’t sneak out for just a little while? It’s today!”

“What’s today?” I asked.

“The grand opening. Mr. Bacon!”

But we couldn’t. Pam and I were already looking at an all-nighter.

Pam offered to try and make both things happen, but I shook her off. I knew we were up against the wall if we wanted to make the release date, and even though we’d been talking about attending the Mr. Bacon grand opening ever since seeing the sign go up. it just wasn’t to be. Defeated, I gave CJ the bad news.

Only, we weren’t alone in missing out on the grand opening festivities. Though it was a Friday, the place closed for the night at 7 pm. Shocking, I know. When I got the follow-up phone call, I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t messed up the evening after all.

So, several weeks have gone by, and none of us had managed to make it over to patronize the joint. And, trust me, besides my sister and Mom, we *all* wanted this place to be the biggest success story in Ft. Myers.

Tuesday, on the way back from the store where we get all our local makeup F/X for shoots, Billy and I were in the perfect spot.

“Hungry?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “What’re you thinking?”

“You know what I’m thinking. Mr. Bacon!”

Mr. Bacon

Yep, that’s yours truly, finally getting to patronize Mister Bacon.

So, we went. Little pricey, to be sure, but then, it *is* bacon, and bacon is pricey. The service? A little slow, but the woman taking the orders told us straight up, it would take a bit because they make everything fresh. Right as it’s ordered. That’s awesome if you’re going to a restaurant, but Billy and I were standing outside on the sidewalk in front of what used to be a Juicy Lucy’s. There was outdoor seating only. One table. And the weather was getting iffy.

I opted for the bacon/peanut butter cheeseburger, and yes, the bacon milkshake. Billy went for the 50/50 burger—50% beef, 50% bacon, and soda. We decided to split a fries, and the woman wanted us to try their homemade special sweet potato fries, so threw in an order for us. Neat.

Unfortunately, I don’t like sweet potatoes. Billy isn’t a big fan, either. But the woman was nice, so we did try them. Now, while we didn’t like them, I will say this. Were they 100% potato? Yup. I’m not even sure how they were cooked. They didn’t seem to be fried. Picture sweet potatoes cut into steak fries, glazed with cinnamon. Interesting, but as mentioned, if you aren’t a sweet potato eater…

The regular fries were much the same. It almost felt as if they’d been steamed. Salty, sure. Definitely felt like eating real potato. So while everything else is loaded with bacon (not the healthiest substance on earth), the potato and sweet potato fries looked like they were trying to be a little less artery-clogging. Noble in principle, I guess.

The burgers. Let me start by saying messy is an understatement. Which made the fact that we only got one napkin each kind of a running joke during our meal. If my brother-in-law takes the kids, my nephew James is gonna need to bring a whole roll of paper towels. A fresh one.

The burgers were pretty good. Plenty of bacon. The shake? Not bad for the first 2/3, when it tasted a lot like a butter pecan milkshake. The last one third, however.that’s when you got to the ground up bacon in the bottom of the cup, and the shake melted fast. Got a little greasy for my taste at that point. The fact that as much shake came on the outside of the cup as the inside.well, an A for effort in packing my cup, I’ll give ’em that.

The service was mega-friendly. But if I were going back? Yeah, as suggested, I’d call in my order ahead. This isn’t the kind of place you can just stop in at lunch hour and be back to work on time.

We were told that they’re planning to expand their hours, so they don’t have to close at 7 on the weekends. That’d be an improvement. I don’t think they’ll last too long closing during dinnertime on Fridays and Saturdays.

My overall review? So-so, but I expect some of that’s based on growing pains and the newness of the staff and establishment. My burger had to be substituted for a 50/50 burger because they’d already run out of their beef stock for the day. So, either they had a pretty big rush before we got there, or they’re going to have to better gauge what to stock up on for each new day.

If you absolutely love bacon, and the mere idea of such a franchise appeals to you as much as me? Give it a try with something basic. $5 bucks for a burger isn’t gonna kill you, and it is a big burger. The shakes are pretty pricey for a small, but again, I have to believe a lot of people are going there for the first time for the novelty. If you’re one of those people? Expect to throw down ten bills for lunch, a little less for breakfast. Plus, they’re a local business. Every once in a while, I don’t mind stopping in somewhere more expensive than my usual value-menu haunts for something special. But if you do, remember, it’s Florida. Until they get their dining area covered? Bring an umbrella!

* * * * * * * * * *

Currently listening to: “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears